In this article, I will show you the 5 best ways how to implement kettlebell swings for conditioning, and get stronger in the process.
How to use kettlebell swings for conditioning
A kettlebell swing is like a swiss army knife. You can use it in multiple ways. (It’s not perfect.)
But you can do a lot of things. If your goal is to get better strength and conditioning, then this resource will hit home with you.
For professionals, kettlebell swings can test you in a new, challenging way. It is probably not the only thing you want to train with. There are better tools for specific jobs that need s to be done. But it is a great way to fill out the gaps.
For regular people, if your goal isn’t to be the strongest, the fastest, or the most hypermobile athlete, and you are looking for utility and the most mileage out of your buck, then kettlebell swings will work wonders.
It can build your strength, mobility, hypertrophy, flexibility, and conditioning.
You can do a lot with kettlebell swings
So here I will show you my best ways to challenge yourself with a kettlebell on its own and as a part of complex movements.
Tabata with kettlebell swings
The Tabata method is a protocol that’s been discovered by a Japanese scientist, who figured out how to increase both aerobic and anaerobic pathways together.
It has been popularly used by athletes, Olympic medalists, strength and conditioning coaches, and regular people who want to burn more fat. It is super simple, yet brutally hard.
The total workout takes 4-minutes.
But don’t get delusional. 4-minutes is enough to get a grown man to cry. On the surface, it may sound like a piece of cake. But the reality is cruel.
It requires going all out for 20-seconds by doing as many reps as possible, followed by 10-seconds rest. All together for 8 rounds. And if you go hard enough, that’s all you will need.
You can do it at the end of your main workout, or use it as a session on its own. If you feel brave enough, go for multiple 4-minute sessions.
Repeat seven more times.
Remember to get the most out of it, you want to really push it through those minutes. Don’t settle for the second-best. Go all out.
300 Rep Challenge
I used to call this American 300 but recently changed the name to just 300 Reps Challenge.
(You watched the movie 300, right? That’s where this idea came from.)
This is a more complex workout that can get your conditioning to the next level. I love to simplify stuff, and this is simplicity at its best.
Another bonus is that this will smoke out all the gaps that you may have. If you are the king of the swings, but you suck at pull-ups, then you will quickly see what is your weak point. So you can adjust your regular workout and next time be better.
There are 6 exercises altogether, and each one requires to do 50 reps. That’s it.
The catch? You must go as fast as possible. If you can complete the whole 600 reps in under a 45-minute mark, then I will salute you.
Don’t make this mistake and treat this as a typical strength training workout. Think of it as getting things done ASAP.
Exercises are placed in a specific, organized way so they won’t smoke out one muscle group at the time. This way you can continue, without burning out.
You will have 6 exercises to do. Pull-ups, kettlebell swings, pushups, box jumps, body crunches, and kettlebell snatches. The beauty of this workout is that there is no set amount of reps that you need to follow.
You just do what you can. But do it fast.
You can literally do 50 reps in one go if you want. However, if you can do 50 in one go, then it means you are using the wrong weight.
- For pull-ups, I recommend starting from a neutral grip or even a chin-up grip. Whatever you feel more comfortable.
Your goal is to do 50 reps and move on to the next one. So choose the one that you can do. Of course, if you can’t do pull-ups, then use TRX or lat-pull-down instead.
- For kettlebell swings, use a weight that will be out of your comfort zone. Really challenge yourself. Don’t this is not your regular workout. Use it as a test.
- For pushups, try to do as many reps as possible in one go. If you can finish all in one go, well done. Do it and move on.
- For box jumps, this will get your quads to scream. I mean it. If you don’t have a box, use a bench that is somewhat stable.
I used to do 10-15 reps and I was done. There was no other workout that put me down as the box jumps.
Never jump off the box. Always step down. It will save your knees.
- For body crunches, this exercise is like a regular sit-up, but you lift your hands and legs at the same time.
Some people call it V-crunch. I call it body crunch. Don’t create momentum. Let your abdominals do the work. Each rep must be done slowly, but try to finish all as fast as possible.
- For snatches, you will be using the same kettlebell you used for swings. It’s a single-arm snatch, but you count a total of 50 reps.
This means you do 25 reps on each hand. You can either do 25 reps with the right hand and then repeat for the left. Or you can alternate. Up to you.
It is a fun way to challenge yourself, and see which components are holding you back. So I would even do it at least once a month. Record your time. And next time, try to beat that time.
Kettlebell swings and rowing machine
There are multiple ways to use an ergometer. In my article about kettlebell swings and rowing machines, I’ve explained the advantages and compared them with the swings.
Because technically they are both hip hinge exercises. But there are not the same.
However, they are powerful strength and conditioning tools that you can use together. Here’s how.
Rowing is a great way to get you out of breath.
That’s what you want in conditioning. But to get the most of it you want to pull as hard as you can, as fast as you can. The ergometer works in a way where the chain is attached to the flywheel. And when you pull, it pumps the air into this flywheel. So the harder you pull, the more air gets in, the more resistance you feel.
Your goal is to go all out for 300m. If you’re using the Concept2 ergometer (rowing machine), you can see how many meters you did on the display screen. The most important part is to go fast and try to remember your time.
Immediately after you’ve finished with the rower, you should already be out of breath. Now is the swing part.
Grab a kettlebell, and do 20 swings. Don’t wait. Just do it.
It will feel like hell, but that’s the beauty of conditioning. It is supposed to be hard. After you are done with the swings, take a rest, walk around, breathe, just do whatever it takes to calm down.
Repeat two more times.
Here is the best part. As you start your round 2, try to beat the time from your first row. Don’t think about it. Just go for it.
Kettlebell swing and bench press
This is a basic combination of doing medium to lightweight classic bench press, followed by kettlebell swings.
Simple conditioning tool. But not many people utilize it this way.
You see people doing a great cardio combination of pushups and swings, or burpees with swings. Personally, I love to do both. But they won’t give you the same strength and conditioning results as the bench press will.
The goal is to load up the bar so you can do up to 15 reps on the bench press. If you can do 20, add some more weight. If you cannot do 12, reduce a bit.
Find the sweet spot.
Once you know your ideal weight for 15 reps, find the kettlebell, and go heavy. Try to aim for 20 reps.
I recommend doing this workout at the beginning of your session. Don’t wait till the end when your muscles already feel exhausted. If you’re “fresh”, by lifting more weight you will bring a better impact on the nervous system.
- For bench press, use the regular grip length, just like you would do with the chest press. It may take a few sets to find this sweet spot, so count them as a warm-up.
Once you are done with the reps, move on to the swings.
- For kettlebell swings, have a kettlebell ready next to the bench.
First, a few reps may feel like a piece of cake, but once you go above 8+ then you will feel it.
The rest is arbitrary here. Just take the time necessary to recover. Don’t get hung up on the exact number.
I recommend going for 5-10 rounds. Remember that you are doing just those two exercises, so you can really add some volume to it.
This is a perfect example of functional conditioning that you can do at the very end of your workout session.
Instead of doing boring miles on the treadmill and hurting your knees, this is a fun and exciting metabolic challenge.
All you need is a heavy kettlebell.
This complex will start with doing 15 kettlebell swings, immediately followed by 15 goblet squats. Once you’re with squats, move on to do farmers walk.
- For kettlebell swings, use the weight that you could do 20-25 reps, but leave some gas in the tank for the rest of the workout.
- For goblet squats, feel free to use the same kettlebell as you did for swings.
However if you have access to rump up the weight, then sweet. Have a kettlebell (or dumbbell) ready next to you so you can really push it.
- For farmers walk, grab the kettlebell (or dumbbell) exactly the same way as you would do with the goblet squats.
Close to your chest. Walk slowly. It’s not a race. You want to stay under tension for as long as possible. Shoot for 20 yards. If you can do more than that, add some more weight.
Also for farmers’ walks, feel free to use a heavier weight than you do for swings. If you can get two heavy dumbbells, that’s even better.
|Kettlebell Swings||15 reps||–|
|Goblet Squat||15 reps||–|
|Farmers Walk||20 yards||4-minutes|
There are several ways to use a farmers walk.
Here I wrote an article are farmers walk bad for your knees, where I explain in-depth the technique of doing this exercise.